Day Camp to Sleepaway Camp: When, Why & How?

posted: October 17, 2022By:

I am a camp person. I have been my entire life. I started at day camp when I was three, then I was off to sleep away camp at age 8 and I stayed there through the age of 16. As soon as I was old enough, I became a counselor at a sleep away camp. After a short stint in the corporate world, I made my way back to day camp by way of Shibley! On the complete opposite end of the spectrum is my husband. He never went to camp. He spent his summers hanging out with friends and family. When he was old enough, he spent time at his father’s shop to learn the business. He didn’t know what camp was all about until he met me.

Early on in our relationship I planted the seed of our kids going to day camp and also one day going away to sleepaway camp. I mean, that’s just what you do…when it’s time, you send your kids to sleep away camp, no questions asked, right? Well, not according to him. “What do you mean you want to send our children away for the summer? We had kids so that we could do things with them, not to send them away!!!” He and I clearly had two different points of view.

I introduced my husband to camp life when our oldest was in nursery school. Our children started at their pre-school camp, moved on to the town camp and then when the oldest was entering 2nd grade it was time for “real camp”, so we toured a few and chose Shibley for all three children ranging in ages from 3-years-old to 7-years-old. I also signed on as a group leader. This was a completely new world for my husband as he had never seen anything like this. It wasn’t just the incredible facility or awesome activities that caught him by surprise, but how the children were making friends, trying new things and displaying independence and confidence that he hadn’t seen before.

There is no way that we would be able to give them this type of experience on our own. Camp is focused on building skills that schools do not teach. The impact in just the first summer was huge. Camp helped our children to ease into the upcoming school year feeling great about who they are and feeling confident to take on any challenges that the school year may bring.

As the children got older, I would always talk about sleepaway camp as an option and my husband would always have the same response…” No! Why would I send my kids away? I will miss them too much.” But this is not about us, this is about them and what they will get out of the experience. Lucky for me, Shibley offers the perfect introduction to the sleepaway camp experience with our annual sleep away week to Club Getaway (SEE LINK BELOW FOR MORE INFO). The trip is run during the summer and attended by Shibley campers and staff who spend the first few weeks together at Shibley, getting to know each other. It was a perfect introduction for my 8-year-old and 9-year-old who had both expressed interest in going away. They were nervous but excited! We sent them off on Monday and they returned on Friday asking for more! I knew it was time…

In the Fall we started to talk about plans for summer 2023. Over the holidays we spent time with family and the kids got to see their cousins who had just finished up their summer at sleepaway camp. Our oldest went right up to my husband and said “I think I want to go to sleepaway camp. I think I’m ready”.  This was something that my son had thought about and it was his decision. My husband couldn’t say no.

Luckily for us Shibley is affiliated with some of the best sleepaway camps in the country. There are single gender camps, co-ed camps, full summer camps and camps with shorter sessions. Each is unique, has its own “vibe” and program offerings. We ultimately picked a co-ed camp with full summer and session options so that the children could all go together and ease into the experience, if necessary. My daughter was not quite ready to spend an entire summer away from Shibley so she attended for 4 weeks and returned to Shibley for 4 weeks as well. My son spent the full summer (7 weeks, eeeek!!) at sleepaway camp. They will both be returning for summer 2024 and my youngest will be joining them for at least 4 weeks.

I am happy to discuss our camps and why it was so important to us to provide this experience for our children. Reach out any time – or 516 621 8777.



We would love to tell you more about our affiliated sleepaway camps! Join us for a Zoom with the directors. RSVP in your CampInTouch account (in forms & documents) or by emailing

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Shibley’s Annual Sleepaway Week: